The 80-year fund idea is based on the NFL model for compensating players in the US. Jess proposes that the $25 million-a-year contribution would be funded “at the retail level of the game” and so the cost would be passed on to football fans.
The funding arrangement proposed by Jess would mean a percentage of the retail price of AFL items – from jumpers and other merchandise to images -would be allocated to the fund. Currently clubs and the AFL take a slice of the wholesale price of items.
Any extra levy would be expected to be passed on by the manufacturer and retailer to the consumer.
The fund would provide a pool of money to compensate and help players without the need to go through expensive and lengthy court action. The class action would be dropped and other civil action unlikely if the fund and compensation model were adopted.
The AFL is exploring with the AFL Players Association the best way to offer help to players and past players, who have known impacts from repeat concussive episodes, including more direct assistance with housing, employment and medical costs rather than large cash payouts.
The initiative would resemble the Catholic Church’s Melbourne Response, with a pool of funds to compensate footballers claiming concussion-related, long-term damage without the need for civil action, where success is more difficult to achieve.
Civil actions for concussion would be difficult in part because players have often engaged in other sports such as boxing, have suffered concussion at a young age while competing at school or local clubs, or in other sports, not at AFL level.
The arguments of assumption of risk by a footballer in competing in a contact sport as well as the degree to which a player from a young age can have informed consent are also factors that would be contested in any civil action.